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Let’s Knit a Sweater

October 25, 2013

Are you ready? It’s time to knit your very first sweater! Two of the challenges many knitters face when creating their first garment are gauge and fit. Review our tutorial on gauge to ensure your sweater comes out to the dimensions you want, and learn about choosing your size to ensure you get a sweater that fits the way you want it to.

Flax is adorable on little men, big men, and on the ladies too! Make a little size to learn the techniques, or jump off the deep end and get started on a sweater for yourself.

::: Get Started :::

Download a copy of the Flax pullover pattern (it’s free!) grab your yarn and needles, and let’s get down to business.  If you have been following along and knitting the other free Simple Collection designs: Wheat Scarf, Malt Blanket, Oats Cowl, Barley Hat, Maize Mitts and Rye Socks, you will already have learned most of the techniques required to make the Flax Pullover.  Believe it or not, there aren’t that many complex techniques required to make a simple sweater!

::: Yoke :::

Using smaller circular needles CO 56 (62, 68, 74, 74, 76, 78, 86, 86, 86, 86, 90, 90, 90, 96, 96, 96) sts place BOR marker, and join for working in the round.

Ribbing: (k1, p1) around
Repeat ribbing until piece measures 1 (1.5) inches from cast on for Child (Adult) sizes. Change to larger needles. [an illustration of this technique shown here]

See this tutorial for details on casting on in the round. BOR is your beginning of round marker. This tells you where your round starts.

Next round: knit, increasing 4 (4, 4, 4, 8, 18, 16, 12, 18, 22, 26, 24, 36, 46, 48 54, 56) sts evenly spaced
[60 (66, 72, 78, 82, 94, 94, 98, 104, 108, 112, 114, 126, 136, 144, 150, 152) sts]

This may seem like a complicated instruction but follow along and we will do a little math. What this means is that you have 56 (62, 68, 74, 74, 76, 78, 86, 86, 86, 86, 90, 90, 90, 96, 96, 96) sts and you need to increase 4 (4, 4, 4, 8, 18, 16, 12, 18, 22, 26, 24, 36, 46, 48 54, 56) sts for a total of 60 (66, 72, 78, 82, 94, 94, 98, 104, 108, 112, 114, 126, 136, 144, 150, 152) sts. So how are we going to do this?

Take the number of stitches you have and divide them by the number of sts you need to increase:

eg. For the 0-6 mo size: you have 56 sts and you need to increase 4 sts, 56/4 = 14

So I will knit 14 sts, then make 1 stitch 4 times and I will have 60 sts.

It gets a little more complicated when the numbers don’t work so perfectly.

eg. for the size XS: you have 86 sts, and you need to increase 12 sts, 86/12 = 7.16. So I will knit 7 sts, then make 1, 12 times, then knit to the end.

Although this may seem unnecessarily complicated (why don’t we just do the math for you?!) it’s an instruction you will come across often in sweater patterns. If we wrote out each size every time we had to do an increase round like this our patterns would be 10 pages long!

Marker setup: [p10 (11, 12, 13, 13, 14, 14, 15, 15, 15, 15, 15, 16, 16, 17, 17, 17) PM, k20 (22, 24, 26, 28, 33, 33, 34, 37, 39, 41, 42, 47, 52, 55, 58, 59), PM] twice
(these raglan markers indicate the divisions between right sleeve, front, left sleeve, and back sections)

yokesetup

This establishes where the sleeves, front and back are. The sleeves are worked with a garter panel down the middle, while the front and back are worked in stockinette st.   [learn more about basic stitch patterns here].

When you are working back and forth, garter stitch is created by knitting every row, but in the round garter stitch is created by knitting on 1 round and purling on the next. Stockinette in the round is created by knitting every round. Since you never turn your work, the right side is always facing you, and therefore the stitches are created differently.

Tip: If you are having trouble remembering where the garter panel goes (or you just want things to be a little more fool proof) you may want to place a marker on either side of the panel.

The Yoke of the sweater is created by increasing (with a kfb) at 8 points on the sweater, 2 sts increased for each sleeve and 2 sts increased on the front and the back. Once you have completed the yoke increases it’s time to measure. You will be working rounds ‘even’ (this means without increases, keeping the garter panel on the sleeves as set). If your round gauge matches that stated in the patter, you will need to work 6 (4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 8, 6, 6, 8, 8,
8, 8, 4, 2, 0, 0) rounds even. If not you will work as many rows as necessary for your yoke to measure 5 (5, 5.5, 6, 6.5, 7, 7, 7.5, 8, 9, 9.5, 10, 10.5, 10.5, 11, 11.5, 12.5) inches deep. Measure from cast on.

yokeprogress

::: Separate Body and Sleeves :::

Now for the fun part: Once you separate the body and sleeves it will start to look like an actual sweater! You will be placing your sleeve sts on waste yarn, casting on sts at the underarm, and joining the front and back.

Next Round: [place 26 (29, 30, 31, 33, 34, 38, 43, 45, 47, 49, 53, 58, 62, 67, 71, 77) sts on waste yarn (the sts from BOR to first marker), using backwards loop method <link> CO 4 (4, 4, 6, 6, 6, 6, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 10, 12, 12) sts, knit to marker] twice

sleeve sts on waste yarn

sleeve sts on waste yarn

Now you will have just the body sts on your needles with 2 sleeves on waste yarn. Starting to look like a sweater yet?

aftersleevesplit

::: Body :::

Here comes the easy peasy miles of stockinette! Just knit knit knit until your piece is 5 (5.5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 14, 13.5, 13.5, 14.5, 14.5, 15.5, 16.5, 17, 17.5, 18.5, 18.5) inches from underarm (or 1 (1.5) inches short of desired length for child (adult) sizes). Change to smaller needles and rib for 1 (1.5) inches.

Binding off in pattern: for a regular bind off you are working 2 knit sts, passing the first over the second, knitting another stitch, passing the first over the second etc [tutorial here]. Binding off in pattern is almost the same, but instead of knitting each of the sts you are working them in pattern.

For this sweater it will be: k1, p1, pass st over, k1, pass st over, p1, pass st over, etc.

bodycomplete

::: Sleeves :::

Place 26 (29, 30, 31, 33, 34, 38, 43, 45, 47, 49, 53, 58, 62, 67, 71, 77) held sts on larger dpns or 16” circ needle for larger sizes. Knit across these sts then pick up and knit 2 (2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 6, 6) sts from body at underarm, PM*, pick up and knit 2 (2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 6, 6) more sts from body at underarm, then join for working in the round.

Put your needle through the live sts before removing the waste yarn.

Put your needle through the live sts before removing the waste yarn.

pickingupsleeves2

All sts are on DPNs

picking up underarms sts.

picking up underarms sts.

If you are doing one of the larger sizes, it’s easiest to start with a 16″ circular needle and switch to DPN’s when you have worked a few decrease rounds.

For the smaller sizes you will be picking up your stitches on DPN’s and the easiest way to distribute them is putting the sts from the BOR to the garter panel on N1, the garter panel on N2, and the rest of the sts on N3. The beginning of your round is the first st on N1 (the middle of the underarm).

Once you have picked up all of your sts, you will join again for working in the round. You will have a small hole at the underarm, not to worry, we will stitch that up later.

holeatunderarm

Work even (maintaining garter panel as set) for 4 (4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 6, 6, 4, 3, 2) inches. If you want to adjust the sleeve length, this is a good place to do it. If you want a longer or short sleeve, here is where you should add or subtract inches.

Decrease round: k1, k2tog, knit to 3 sts before marker, ssk, k1

Work 5 rounds even.

Repeat the previous 6 rounds 1 (1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15) more times. [26 (29, 30, 33, 35, 36, 38, 39, 41, 41, 43, 45, 46, 48, 51, 53, 57) sts]

Continue working sleeve as instructed, you already have all the skills required!

Tip: Making 2 the same

The important thing about knitting sleeves is making 2 the same (sounds obvious right?). So make sure to take notes on the number of rounds you work as you go.

  • how many rounds to the first decrease?
  • how many rounds after the last decrease but before the ribbing?
  • how many rounds in the ribbing?

::: Finishing :::

Finishing a sweater can be the most important part. Block your sweater and weave in your ends. There will be a small hole at the underarm, use your tail to sew that up.

You have put a lot of work into your first sweater so don’t skip blocking, it’s an important step. Blocking will make your stitches even out and lie flat and generally ‘smooth out’ your work.  It’s easy to block a sweater out of proportion if you aren’t careful. Make sure you have your measuring tape handy and that your chest measurements and length are as desired.


This tutorial is part of The Simple Collection – our 100% free learn-to-knit series.  Check out the 8 fabulous free patterns sized from baby to big, and get started making modern seamless knits for the entire family!  Like our work?  Get our email updates and we will let you know about new patterns, tutorials, and events.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Dai permalink
    September 15, 2014 4:28 pm

    The tutorial says that : “If your round gauge matches that stated in the patter, you will need to work 6 (4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 8, 6, 6, 8, 8,8, 8, 4, 2, 0, 0) rounds even.” Not sure if this might be an error as the pattern says to work rounds 1-2 a total of 7 (8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 29) times.

    Thank you for this tutorial! Makes getting back into knitting much easier.

    • September 18, 2014 11:04 am

      It means you should work rows 1 and 2 (increase round, work as set) a certain number of times, then work a certain number of rounds even. Glad you like the tutorial!

  2. Nicole permalink
    September 7, 2014 11:14 am

    After a big headache i’ve found the mistake: on this tutorial for the knit increase the second bold # for the size small is 108. Where as on the actual pattern download its 104. Can you refer me to a tutorial where you can take out stitches?

    • September 7, 2014 9:37 pm

      Hi Nicole, sorry, you are correct, I have updated the tutorial page. You should have 104 sts.

  3. Nicole permalink
    September 7, 2014 10:44 am

    Hi, I am currently working on this sweater and I have a question. I am working the Small size and I am at the point where you are suppose to place the marker setup. I have purled 15 PM and then Knit 37 and PM. I then see outside the [ ] it says twice. so I then again purled 15 PM and then knit 37 and PM but i’m left with 4 extra stitches? is that correct? please help, this is my first sweater and i want to make sure i am doing it correctly :) Thanks!!!

  4. Margret permalink
    August 18, 2014 6:27 pm

    Question – for this sweater in S/M, could you please verify: the 3 circular needles suggested (if the knitter’s gauge is correct) are: US#6, 16″ circular needles, and US#8 “32” circular needles, and for the sleeves, US#8 24″ circular needles, and then DPNs in sizes US#6 and US #8?

    What length of DPNs are best for the S/M sizr?

    Thank you!
    Margret

    • August 18, 2014 10:51 pm

      Hi Margret

      For the sleeves and the collar you can start on the 16″ circulars. For the body of the sweater you can switch to a 24″ or a 32″ circ when there are too many stitches on the 16″, it’s up to you, I knit it on 24″ circs but I don’t mind squishing my stitches on the needle.

      For the DPN’s it’s knitters choice. Longer needles (like 8″) are a little easier to learn on, but I like a short, (5-6″), DPN myself.

  5. July 20, 2014 8:47 am

    Great pattern, and the best kudos for your wonderful step-by-step instructions!
    One question: would the pattern accommodate knitting the garter stitch sleeve stripes with another colored yarn?
    Thanks!

  6. Eric permalink
    June 9, 2014 6:45 am

    I am hoping to make two of these for a friend’s wedding present. His wife likes the pattern but would like a v-neck. How could I alter this patter to make a v-neck? Thank you very much.

    • June 10, 2014 10:12 am

      Hello – There’s no easy answer to this one: altering this pattern to make a v-neck would essentially require writing an entirely new pattern… So I’d suggest you find a pattern that already has v-neck shaping included, rather than work with this pattern. Good luck with the wedding knitting!

      • Eric permalink
        July 29, 2014 5:00 am

        I’ve reached the sleeve and have gotten confused. I’ve had to work out my own gauge because my stitches are tighter than yours. When I finish decreasing for a men’s size Large, how long should the sleeve be at that point? Ideally?
        Thanks.

      • August 5, 2014 10:08 pm

        It doesn’t really matter, just 2 inches short of your desired length at the longest (if they are shorter than that, that is okay, just keep in pattern until your sleeve is 2 inches short of desired length)

      • Eric permalink
        August 22, 2014 7:03 pm

        How about if i just wanted to make the collar smaller? Pull it in at the shoulders so it’s closer to a true circle? Any suggestions on how I can do that? Thanks

      • August 24, 2014 2:38 pm

        I’m afraid nothing quick. Altering a pattern in such a way really amounts to a re-design, it will involve a little trial and error!

  7. Lucio permalink
    May 10, 2014 7:53 am

    Absolutely lovely explanation, so useful indeed for me. I might be more encouraged now as I’ve never made a sweater before!
    I’d have a question. I do not particularly like the garter panel on the sleeves. I was wondering: can I just go with stockinette stitch all around the sleeves, or would that mess up the pattern?
    Many thanks for your kind attention ;D

    • May 22, 2014 7:27 am

      It will work just fine if you substitute stockinette for the garter stitch panels on the sleeves, good luck with your first sweater!

  8. marsha shartzer permalink
    April 17, 2014 7:47 am

    your instructions are the best! thanks :)

  9. Nancy G permalink
    March 14, 2014 9:20 am

    I’ve just found your web site via Ravelry and I must say it is fantastic. I wish you had been around when I first returned to knitting. However, I know I will be visiting often. I have just placed Flax and Harvest on my list of “Must do”. I will be referring my future daughter-in-law who is a brand new knitter. I’ve not seen better instructions anywhere. Thank you so much for providing free instructions and patterns. You deserve a gold medal!

  10. TheresaW permalink
    February 15, 2014 10:50 am

    Have made a couple of flat-constructed cardigans and, after reading these awesome instructions set, am ready to go for a fast workup with this Flax sweater in the round. Thank you!

  11. 369877412 permalink
    December 26, 2013 11:04 pm

    I love your design

  12. Rachel Mitchell permalink
    November 13, 2013 6:53 am

    I’ve made two of these in the past couple of weeks, and I absolutely loved knitting them. I’ve been knitting for 20 years and I love the simplicity of the construction (I loathe seaming.) The garter stitch section on the sleeves add visual and knitting interest. I whipped up one in a size 4 and another in a size 8 for my two girls in just a couple of weeks. They really like them too, which is great for a 2 1/2 and 5 year old. I think this will be my go-to pattern from now on for their casual play sweaters. I’m planning on making them the snowflake sweaters for Christmas! Thank you for these awesome patterns and tutorials. Your designs are fantastic and practical!

  13. Sylvia permalink
    October 26, 2013 10:02 am

    This is wonderful! Thank you.

  14. October 26, 2013 9:38 am

    Nice tutorial. Wish this had been around when I first started knitting.

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